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A Vote to Remember

by David A. DeCenzo

Ever since I first arrived on campus in July 2002, I have often been moved by the spirit of this University. The particular characteristic that has impressed me as being unique to Coastal Carolina University is its extraordinary can-do approach—a combination of vision, energy, collaboration and determination. When you look back and consider the history of Coastal Carolina, this quality was clearly the motivating factor in most of the great achievements of this institution.

In Atheneum Hall there was once a room known as 003. It was the largest meeting space on the campus for nearly 25 years. The space has since been remodeled to provide offices for our Public Safety personnel. A small plaque hangs there to mark a pivotal occasion in the life of this institution — the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the newly established Coastal Carolina University on July 1, 1993.

That room is important for another historic decision that reflects Coastal Carolina’s can-do ethos. A quiet ceremony was held there recently to mark the event’s 20th anniversary.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 23, 1991, a joint meeting of the Horry County Higher Education Commission and the Coastal Educational Foundation was held in 003. The topic under discussion was one that had rumbled through the decades. For nearly 30 years, Coastal Carolina had been a branch campus of the University of South Carolina. On this Tuesday afternoon, the leaders of the movement calling for Coastal Carolina to break away from USC had something to say.

During the meeting, the following words were delivered with force and eloquence by Paul Malone, then chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee representing both bodies:

“Our recommendation is that the joint body of the Horry County Higher Education Commission and the Coastal Educational Foundation, Incorporated, begin the process of establishing Coastal Carolina College as a free-standing, independent, state-supported institution of higher learning, with a statewide Board of Trustees.”

Those in favor of the proposal cast their vote by standing up. Each member of each group rose to signify solidarity in their decision to seek legislative approval from the S.C. General Assembly to establish an independent Coastal Carolina University.

That vote was bold and it had its costs, but it stands as a remarkable testament to the character of the men and women who blazed the trail that would allow Coastal Carolina University to grow and prosper as a place of tradition, integrity and excellence.

The 20th anniversary of the vote provides an opportunity to reflect on the impact of that historic day and on the tremendous progress of this University. It would not have happened without the diligence and passion of our faculty and staff — past and present. This contagious energy defines our University and has been a constant source of inspiration to me. I trust that this same energy and vision will strengthen all our efforts in the years to come. Thank you for all you do for our Coastal Carolina University.

Founders Day will be celebrated Monday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. in Wheelwright Auditorium.


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